TRANSFER STUDENTS are streaming into the University’s four-year baccalaureate colleges at unprecedented rates — expanding diversity as a CUNY redefined by a decade of improved academics, record-breaking enrollments and $1.8 billion in campus facility upgrades is increasing access to a high-value education as never before.
The upward transfer trend, evident among all major racial and ethnic groups — Asians, blacks, Hispanics and whites — has enhanced racial diversity at the 11 senior colleges, where transfers increased from 15,423 in 2001-2002 to 24,056 in 2011-2012.
The trend not only spotlights an increasingly well-trod path of access to CUNY’s baccalaureate programs, but also the robust mobility within its more tightly integrated system of colleges. A majority — 62 percent — of the transfers came from within the University, and almost all of the within-CUNY transfers, 87 percent, moved from a less-selective college to a more selective one, according to the Office of Institutional Research.
Broken down by race, the 10-year transfer trend is a significant factor in expanding CUNY’s diversity — already a given with the overwhelming number of freshmen entering from New York City’s diverse public and private high school systems.
From 2001-2002 to 2011-2012, Asian transfer enrollment in the four-year colleges went up from 2,230 to 4,593 or 19.1 percent of the transfer enrollment; black transfer enrollment increased from 4,473 to 5,879, or 24.4 percent; Hispanic transfers climbed from 3,151 to 5,651 or 23.5 percent of baccalaureate transfer enrollment, and white transfer numbers went up from 5,539 to 7,884 or 32.8 percent.
These trends, along with a decade of improving one-year retention rates among black and Hispanic full-time freshmen in the baccalaureate programs, have contributed to steady increases in black and Hispanic baccalaureate enrollment. This diverse profile is likely to remain stable for the foreseeable future, based on the improving retention rates, rising graduation rates at the CUNY-feeding New York City public schools and the upward transfer trend.
CUNY is one of the most diverse public university systems in the country — with black, Hispanic and white students each representing more than a quarter of all undergraduates, and Asians 18 percent — according to fall 2011 figures. In fact, the University has the highest percentage of blacks enrolled in senior colleges, the second-highest percentage of Asians and the third highest percentage of Hispanics when compared with the six other largest and most diverse public systems, including the State University of New York and systems in California, Connecticut, Florida, New Jersey and Texas, according to the National Center for Education Statistics’ Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System. Students hail from 208 countries of origin, 58 percent of undergraduates are female and 28 percent of students are 25 or older.
The University’s community college enrollment has also increased among all racial groups from fall 2001 to fall 2011, according to University figures. The surge has been fueled in part by transfer students, whose enrollment rose from 11,293 in 2001-2002 to 14,713 in 2011-2012, a trend reflected among all racial/ethnic groups.
Freshman enrollment also rose substantially at the community colleges — from 24,217 in 2001-2002 to 34,340 in 2011-2012 – and took place among all racial groups except for white students, whose freshman numbers have essentially remained stable.
Graduation rates at the University for students of all races have increased dramatically in recent years. The six-year graduation rate for Asian and white students increased 13.8 percentage points between the freshman cohorts of 1995 and 2005, while the graduation rate for black and Hispanic students went up more — by 14.4 percentage points. Between 2001 and 2011, the number of bachelor’s degrees earned by black students rose 16.3 percent, from 4,055 to 4,714. The number earned by Hispanic students sharply increased by 48.2 percent, from 2,727 to 4,042.
Driven primarily by rising graduation rates in the city’s public high schools, overall undergraduate enrollment has grown substantially, by 70,000 students, over the past decade. Enrollment crested at more than 272,000 during the 2011-2012 academic year, including approximately 105,000 in associate programs and some 114,000 pursuing baccalaureate degrees.
THE SURGING DEMAND for classroom seats has been fed by the strengthening of academic standards in the senior colleges, including establishment of The Macaulay Honors College at CUNY and other college-based honors programs — and the creation of stronger college-readiness programs in the community colleges including the model Stella and Charles Guttman Community College and the graduation-rate-boosting Accelerated Study in Associate Programs, or ASAP.
The University’s Invest in CUNY campaign has raised $2.3 billion since 2004 to fund initiatives such as student scholarships, and CUNY is now in the midst of an extensive capital construction program, with $1.8 billion spent so far to expand student capacity at college campuses across the five boroughs.
Antiquated facilities have been upgraded and new buildings housing 21st-century classrooms, laboratories, libraries and meeting spaces have been constructed, transforming the CUNY student experience and fueling the city’s economy with steady construction jobs in the process.
Senior, comprehensive and community colleges have all seen significant, value-enhancing facilities improvements. John Jay College of Criminal Justice has a new, $650 million campus on Manhattan’s West Side.
Other upgrades at comprehensive and community colleges that have been completed or are under way include Medgar Evers College’s new, $235 million academic building, a $31 million Academic Village at Kingsborough Community College and a new $77 million building at Lehman College showcasing its strength in plant-science education.
At City Tech, a $406 million academic building to address the college’s acute space shortage is under way; at the College of Staten Island, a $200 million interdisciplinary high-performance computational center is in the pipeline, and there are design funds for a $120 million academic village/conference center at York College to house class and conference rooms, a bookstore, student government, clubs and lounges.
This past fall a new library opened at Bronx Community College; Borough of Manhattan Community College’s Fiterman Hall, rebuilt after its destruction on 9/11, opened for classes; and the CUNY Law School moved to a new, modern facility in Long Island City.
CUNY’s integrated system of 24 colleges and schools encompasses 11 senior and comprehensive, and seven community colleges. The new CUNY is expanding academic access and entry points, and upgraded facilities, at all institutional levels — raising the overall quality of the system while attracting new students to an array of educational opportunities.
Opportunities are also expanding as a result of the University’s increased commitment to adult and continuing education, English-language immersion and GED classes. Online degree programs coordinated through the School of Professional Studies are also creating new options for returning adults and students in the workforce seeking training and advanced education.
The University has also broadened its educational outreach over the last dozen years through satellite educational centers in city neighborhoods infused with immigrants seeking credit and noncredit courses.